Hillside High principal steps down
Posted June 12, 2009
DURHAM, N.C. — Hillside High School Principal Earl Pappy has resigned, officials said Friday, three years after he arrived on campus with a plan to turn the troubled school around.
Durham Public Schools spokesman Michael Yarbrough said the resignation is effective July 1. He declined to elaborate on the move, citing personnel privacy rules.
Pappy, 51, couldn't be reached Friday for comment.
He was hired in 2006 after four years as principal of a high school in Richmond, Va. He had improved student performance in Richmond, and Durham officials saw his no-nonsense, goal-oriented approach as the path to improving Hillside High.
A state judge has threatened for years to shut down the Durham school because of poor student performance.
Fabian Burch, who recently graduated from Hillside High, said the school "was kind of a crazy place to be, kind of wild and frantic and crazy" before Pappy arrived. He credited the principal with turning the school around.
"He really, like, brought up Hillside," said Burch, who plans to study in London in the fall. "People, like, respected Mr. Pappy."
End-of-course test scores posted on the school district's Web site show that students improved in some areas during Pappy's tenure and regressed in others.
"He maybe can't do it all in three years, but give him some time. He can get it done," parent Robin Bell said.
Bell said she wrote a letter to the superintendent and spoke the school board when she heard rumors Pappy might not come back to Hillside next year.
"He's such a role model for these kids, and he's so supportive," she said. "He's made a great difference."
Pappy is a Raleigh native who worked in public schools in Wake and Johnston counties before moving to Virginia.
Yarbrough said the district is forming a committee to search for a new Hillside High principal.